U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s calls for a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem while Arab construction, which far exceeds Jewish development, continues unfettered – are clearly biased.
Arabs claim that Jewish settlements “change the status” of the Territories and represent a distortion of the Oslo Accords. The phrase applies to acts that change the political status of the disputed territory – such as outright Israeli annexation, or a Palestinian declaration of statehood.
Since Jewish settlements are legal, any halt in construction should be reciprocated.
The Oslo Accords do not forbid Israeli or Arab settlement activity. Charging that further Jewish settlement activity preempts final negotiations by establishing realities, requires reciprocity.
If Jews were forcibly expelled from the ‘West Bank’ in 1948 during a war of aggression aimed at them, then these Territories must be considered disputed Territories, at the least.
The Israeli-Palestinian border dispute is like every other major and minor boundary dispute around the globe. The ‘West Bank’ was redeemed in 1967 in a war of self defense and is not “Occupied Territory” gained illegally by a bellicose power, and since this fact is recognized in the wording of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 that call for a settlement to institute “secure and recognized boundaries.”
According to David Bar-Ilan, a former policy planning official, the tempo of Arab construction is “more than 10 times the number of buildings under construction [in the Territory] than those approved [by the Israeli government] for the [Jewish] settlers.”
Eli E. Hertz
Eli E. Hertz is the president of Myths and Facts, an organization devoted to research and publication of information regarding US interests in the world and particularly in the Middle East. Mr. Hertz served as Chairman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting.